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A comparative study of bridge damage due to the Wenchuan, Northridge, Loma Prieta and San Fernando earthquakes

Wang Zhiqiang1,2 and George C. Lee2

  1. Department of Bridge Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
  2. Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, USA

Abstract: A comparative study of selected bridge damage due to the Wenchuan, Northridge, Loma Prieta and San Fernando earthquakes is described in this paper. Typical ground motion effects considered include large ground fault displacement, liquefaction, landslide, and strong ground shaking. Issues related to falling spans, inadequate detailing for structural ductility and complex bridge configurations are discussed within the context of the recent seismic design codes of China and the US. A significant lesson learned from the Great Wenchuan earthquake, far beyond the opportunities to improve the seismic design provisions for bridges, is articulated.

Keywords: bridge damage; Wenchuan earthquake; Northridge earthquake; Loma Prieta earthquake; San Fernando earthquake; ground motion; liquefaction; landslide

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Copyright© 2009 IEM. Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Vibration. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as described below, without written permission from the Publisher. Copying of articles is not permitted except for personal and internal use, to the extent permitted by national copyright law, or under the terms of a license issued by the National Reproduction Rights Organization of China.